Monday, April 6, 2009

# 99 -- Ross Grimsley

Ross Grimsley

Ross had a good career through the 70's and was known as a reliable and solid, if not spectacular pitcher. He was good for 14 wins and (when healthy) 240 innings a year. The Reds had a horrible down year in 1971, in between World Series years, but Ross was a bright spot, joining the rotation in mid-May and winning 10 games. Even in the early 70's, everyone loved a lefty. That performance allowed him to win that beautiful gold cup on his card signifying him as a Topps All-Star Rookie.

In 1972 the season started a couple of weeks late because of the strike, but Ross didn't join the Reds rotation until early May. He was solid through the season and stepped up big in the playoffs. The Pirates took a 2-1 lead (best of 5 in those days) into game 4 and Ross threw a 2-hitter at the Pirate lineup (which was heavily left-handed), and then the Reds won Game 5 to go to the Series. He lost Game 2 in the Series by a 2-1 score, which was certainly no disgrace. He pitched out of the bullpen, winning Games 5 & 6 to keep the Reds in it. He wasn't scored on in Game 7, but the A's already had the runs they needed to win it.

Ross was a good free agent sign by the Expos in 1978, winning 20 and making the All-Star team, but that was it. He had arm problems and was out of baseball by 1982.

Being a lawyer, I didn't realize it, but I can appreciate that Ross is famous in employment law circles for an incident in Fenway in 1975. I'll summarize what this blog reports (I recommend clicking the link if for no other reason than to get a great picture of Fenway from behind the right field stands, a view I don't know if I'd ever seen). Grimsley was warming up on September 16, 1975 and some of the friendly Sox fans were heckling him. The visitors' bullpen is available for that. Ross got fed up and threw the ball at the fans. It broke through the netting (prima facie evidence that the netting was defective) and hit a fan. The fan, named Manning, sued Ross and the Orioles. You would think it was pretty obvious that Ross was liable, but the trial court directed a verdict in favor of Ross and the Orioles on the claim for battery and the Orioles were trying to say that when he got mad and threw a ball in the stands he was no longer in the course and scope of his employment. The Court of Appeals felt differently, reversed the trial court and also found that the Orioles were responsible for Ross' toss. The case was remanded to the trial court and I suspect the case settled.

The original blog had a great limerick about this precursor to the Rob Dibble episode:

A reliever awaiting deployment
May act in the scope of employment
If he throws some high heat
At a fan in his seat
Unless for his own sheer enjoyment.

(Side note: Ross didn't make it into that game or any other game the rest of the year. The case wasn't decided until 1981, when Ross was with the Indians, but it didn't stop the O's from picking Ross back up for a few weeks in 1982.)


  1. Awesome job. This is another candidate for blog post of the year.

  2. Wasn't Grimsley known for his odd superstitions, especially about not washing his hair or something if he was on a winning streak?

  3. I don't remember odd superstitions, but he did have a 70's WGA (white guy afro) later in his career, which would make it easier to go several weeks without washing.

  4. Great blog. Will there be more posts?

  5. We miss you! This is a great blog. Hope all is well.

  6. Ross is still throwing a baseball daily. He is presently a pitching coach in the S.F. Giants organization.

  7. Just so all will know and understand, this was an accident and if you were at the trails, you would know this. Fenway park was packed with 35,000 fans that night in a pennant race game. Fans were 3 feet from Mr Grimsley while wayne Garland and he were warming up. It would be pretty hard to hear any one person yelling at him or anyone. The testimony of people there, told the same story Grimsley told on the stand.